"Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" He said, "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?'"Cain's question is most often interpreted to be a selfish denial of his responsibility to be his brother's keeper. To the contrary, however, Cain had actually presumed to be his brother's keeper. He considered Abel's life to be under his authority, to be given or taken at his pleasure. Cain had taken and swallowed the bait of temptation just as his mother, Eve, had done when she chose to act upon the claim, 'You will be be like God.'
In more modern times, the seductive lure of being like God changes only in outward rhetoric. It nonetheless remains as Solomon stated so long ago, "There is nothing new under the sun."
One 'academic scribbler from a few years back' causing wannabe 'madmen in authority to distill their frenzy' is Julian Huxley. In his essay, 'Transhumanism' published in New Bottles for New Wine in 1957, Huxley purported to be like God, albeit in more sophisticated, yet nevertheless thinly veiled terms:
As a result of a thousand million years of evolution, the universe is becoming conscious of itself, able to understand something of its past history and its possible future. This cosmic self-awareness is being realized in one tiny fragment of the universe-- in a few of us human beings.[italics mine][...]It is only a small wonder that Progressive politicians are distilling their frenzy from this academic scribbler's voice in the air. It has always been seductive to view yourself as God, not only over your own life, but also over the lives of others. It is certain, they say, that we are our brother's keeper.
It is as if man had been suddenly appointed managing director of the biggest business of all, the business of evolution-- appointed without being asked if he wanted it, and without proper warning and preparation. What is more, he can't refuse the job. Whether he wants to or not, whether he is conscious of what he is doing or not, he is in point of fact determining the future direction of evolution on this earth. That is his inescapable destiny, and the sooner he realizes it and starts believing in it, the better for all concerned.
What the job really boils down to is this-- the fullest realization of man's possibilities, whether by the individual, by the community, or by the species in its processional adventure along the corridors of time.[...]
The world's unrest is largely due to this new belief... The unrest will produce some unpleasant consequences before it is dissipated; but it is in essence a beneficent unrest, a dynamic force which will not be stilled until it has laid the physiological foundations of human destiny.[italics mine][...]
We are already justified in the conviction that human life as we know it in history is a wretched makeshift, rooted in ignorance; and that it could be transcended by a state of existence based on the illumination of knowledge and comprehension,[...]
We shall start from new premises. For instance, that beauty (something to enjoy and something to be proud of) is indispensable, and therefore that ugly or depressing towns are immoral; that quality of people not mere quantity, is what we must aim at, and therefore that a concerted policy is required to prevent the present flood of population-increase from wrecking all our hopes for a better world;[...]
The intended answer to Cain's question is, "No, I am my brother's brother. LORD, you are my brother's keeper, as well as mine."